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Rutgers D-Line focusing on fundamentals

As the Rutgers football team inches closer and closer to the start of the season, spring practices become more and more intense. And it’s no different for the defensive line.

Sporting a new defensive line coach in Corey Brown, the Scarlet Knights hope to move in the right direction on the defensive side of the ball, and early this spring it all starts with the fundamentals.

“Really up front, it’s definitely something where you have to have the fundamentals down,” Brown said, noting that’s not the only thing. “But you also gotta play with passion, you gotta be tough, you gotta have a great attitude and that’s something on a daily basis you have to approach with the right mindset.”

Last year, the Rutgers defense fell short — especially at the defensive line and tackle positions, compiling only 15 total sacks. 

This spring, Brown has made that a focal point for his players.

“Definitely pass rush, coach Brown emphasizes that a lot, we need to get better at pass rush,” said fifth-year senior defensive lineman Kevin Wilkins. “… We need to find better ways to get to the QB.”

Wilkins will assume the vacated leadership role this year after the departures of players like Kemoko Turay, Sebastian Joseph and Myles Nash.

Nevertheless, Wilkins thinks the entire team respects each other and leads one another.

“We have a designated leader in every single room, but in our room we all kind of respect each other,” he said. “… We all have leaders in the room. Do we have a designated one? Probably so, me, Jon Bateky, Julius (Turner), it is what is, but I think we all lead in our own way with each other, we all kind of feed off of each other.”

That’s something that Brown also preaches. Brown said it’s about trusting the guy next to you and “getting things done as a unit.” After that, things will fall into place.

And regardless of the new coach, Wilkins, at least, enjoys the new and different presence and coaching style that he brings to the locker room.

“I like coach Brown a lot actually, very easy to talk to,” he said. “... I like the way he’s coaching us right now, a lot of different techniques, a lot of things that I didn’t know, a lot of different terminology that he uses, which is always good to learn. You’re never a finished product so having three different coaches kind of benefits you at the end of the day.”

In spite of all this work, though, the Knights still lack depth on the defensive line, something both the players and Brown are aware of. 

But the journey to add depth doesn’t happen overnight and Brown knows that.

“It’s a process, and it’s something that you gotta embrace day by day,” he said. “It’s definitely something where we’ve addressed it, understanding the things we gotta take on, but understanding it’s not gonna happen all at once.”

Nevertheless, more time spent doing anything should net better outcomes.

“Year two with this defense we look a lot better,” Wilkins said. “We knew what we were doing last year, but, I think, as a whole everyone is a lot more confident in what we’re doing.”

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